Ever bought a course that was a complete waste of money? RAISE YOUR FIST

Caroline Calloway promised orchid crowns to her Creativity Workshop attendees—and then failed to deliver just about everything promised (including the crowns).

Caroline Calloway promised orchid crowns to her Creativity Workshop attendees—and then failed to deliver just about everything promised (including the crowns).

A few months ago I purchased a live, webinar-based content marketing mini-course for $97. 

It was CRAP.

And I’M STILL MAD ABOUT IT. Even thought it was only $97!

I actually left before the 2-hour webinar was over. I did not download the recording after.

Why was it crap?

The advice being given was great--if the year was 2006.

But it’s not 2006—it’s 2019 mofo!* (Although, it was 2018 at the time).

That mini-course should have been called “How to write crap nobody will read”

Because if "they" won’t read it--why bother writing it? Why send a crap email newsletter and annoy your potential clients?

However, quite a few of the attendees thought this was great advice! The webinar chat was alight with people ooh-ing and ahh-ing. 

The majority of these ooh-ers and ahh-ers were not copywriters. So, how were they supposed to know?

In fact—why had they signed up for this course in the first place?

For the same reason I did. Because this person is:

  • Instagram Famous

  • An Expert in Copywriting (supposedly)

So let’s talk Caroline Calloway and the problem of Instagram Influencers

I had had zero plan to bitch about the $97 course...until I read the story of Caroline Calloway.

Caroline Calloway is an Instagram Influencer with 800,000+ followers. In 2015 she started Instagramming the story of her romance with a dude named Oscar.

  • People were hooked.

  • She got even more followers.

  • She got a book deal with PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE et al., and has said she got an advance of $500,006 total.

Two years later she told her Instagram followers: "I’m pulling out of this book deal." 

Why? Because she had creative differences with her publishers. 
Which—that happens. It does not mean Calloway is not creative. 

So, when Calloway announced that $165 creativity workshops would be part of her upcoming tour of the USA, UK, and Europe--who could blame her followers for buying?

Calloway promised her creativity workshops would have (information per New York Magazine):

  • Coffee or tea with oat milk

  • A personalized journal to take notes in during class and to take home as a souvenir

  • Fresh orchid crowns (emphasis mine, because I’m judging that pretty hard)

  • Mason jar gardens

  • A handwritten note from Calloway herself, plus a care package customized for each person

During the creativity workshop she would teach her fans how to:

  • Cultivate creativity

  • Tackle the emotional and spiritual dimensions of making art

  • How to build an Instagram brand

Her followers loved her. Of course they bought! Who wouldn’t want the romance of it all? (It helps to pretend you also loved her).

I have to hand it to her: she did a great job of selling an obsession (something I’ve written about before).

There was just one problem. She couldn’t pull it off, like at all--the whole shebang was SO poorly planned it was scandalous.

Not as bad as the Fyre Festival fiasco, obviously.

But her first few workshops were bombs. Attendees took to the internet to complain. “There were no orchid crowns!” “I didn’t get a handwritten note!” “There was only 90 minutes of so-called teaching!” All valid complaints! Promises were made.

So Calloway canceled the remaining workshops. But the next day, she relaunched the tour! 

Instagram Influencers are a much bigger problem than Calloway

So many Instagram Influencers are selling a false bill of goods.

  • Diet products they don’t actually use

  • Skincare products they don’t actually use

  • Workshops that are crap

  • Expertise they don’t actually have

Of course, hucksters have been around forever.

And none of us want to admit when we’ve been taken in—not even me! 

But I just did, because I feel much less alone when I think of the poor people who were:

  • Stranded without food at the Fyre Festival

  • Let down by Calloway

  • Desperate enough to try detox tea, only to have horrible painful cramps and digestion issues


So now it’s your turn. Are you selling crap?

Most of the articles (like this one) I’ve read have focused on “Use this advice and never fall for bullshit again.”

It’s good advice, but: we’re all going to fall for this bullshit at some point.

Instead I’m going to ask you to examine your own courses and services. Are you delivering on your promises?

Don’t just refuse to be a victim of the crooked crap sellers.

Refuse to be a crook, yourself. RAISE. YOUR. FIST.

Photo by Nicolas Postiglioni from Pexels.

Jenn Whinnem